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Opportunities at the Avalon Airshow

“Avalon is a place that brings everyone together.
As such it is a fantastic event to forge new relationships.”

With Avalon’s Australian International Air Show fast approaching (26 Feb – 3 March) we reached out for the best advice for DTC members on exhibiting at Avalon, or indeed any
defence industry trade show.

Les Shearn and Emilio De Stefano, Alliance Facilitators at the DTC,

were happy to share their knowledge and experience. Both have had vast experience of defence industry trade shows, with Les being a particular stalwart of Avalon.

What to expect

DTC members attending Avalon for the first time can expect long, though very rewarding days says Shearn. Setting up early, exhibitors hit the ground running. Connecting with existing and potential new clients, they will find themselves fielding questions throughout the day, so it’s best to be prepared.

The Defence SA stand is well designed and a proven draw for potential clients. DTC members who choose to exhibit on the Defence SA stand are assigned what is called a Pod that has a screen for showing company videos or presentations, as well as an area to keep pamphlets and other marketing material.

It is always good to get to know those companies around you

The DTC’s pod receives many queries around particular capabilities. This enables them to refer these directly to other companies exhibiting on the stand. It’s this broad offering of capabilities that Shearn believes makes the Defence SA stand so compelling to prospective clients.

Discussions that begin at Avalon lead to opportunities

Avalon is an effective source of information for SME decision makers. It allows them to discuss their specific requirements, face-to-face with companies. Equally, it’s a great opportunity for exhibitors to find companies that complement their own offering.

Shearn points to the many contacts he has made and connections he has encouraged as a result of having attended Avalon. Avalon enabled the DTC with the Australian Aerospace Alliance and Specialist Vehicles Alliance to directly approach other companies to join and fill in capability gaps. Collaborative alliances such as these can approach primes confident that their offering will really get noticed.

“At the end of the day it’s seeing results achieved from companies working collaboratively with each other.”

Preparing for Avalon

Emilio De Stefano offers up some great ideas for DTC members preparing for Avalon, or any other defence industry trade show. First and foremost, he says, work out exactly what it is you want from the event.

  • Are you looking to gather market intelligence?
  • Are you looking to develop your brand awareness?
  • Are you looking to connect with a key prospect that you know will be attending?

Putting some thought into your objectives to begin with will ensure you have the right ‘end’ in mind and help you to put the most effective plan into place.

Depending on your objective, the strategy required will likely be quite different. If you’re under resourced, having a stand isn’t always the best option. Simply attending the event and getting out to ‘press the flesh’ can be a good strategy.

Once you’ve identified what you wish to achieve and how you you’re going to go about doing so, there’s all the usual to arrange. Quad charts or capability statements should be professionally prepared and provide a clear and concise overview of your business and what it has to offer.

The pitch

Les Shearn suggests an eye-catching presentation highlighting your company’s unique selling proposition. Both men agree it’s a good idea to have an elevator style pitch ready. It should succinctly explain how your offering is of value to your clients over and above any other company.

But it’s not ‘one size fits all’. Taking the time to listen to a potential client will help you to identify their needs or what may be of most value to them. You can then tailor your pitch accordingly.

The approach

Members should approach prospective collaboration partners or clients with an open mind and a mediumto-long term outlook says De Stefano. The most important part of any relationship is trust, and this takes time to develop.

  • Do some background research
  • Talk to contacts who know the person you wish to speak with
  • Arrange for an introduction

A third-party (‘warm’) introduction is more powerful than approaching a person cold. It automatically gives a level of credibility and trust, and helps to bring about a more open and fruitful discussion around potential collaboration.

Don’t push it

If things have gone well in the initial introduction and discussion, De Stefano suggests that it is often best to leave it at that and request another time to catch up to explore further opportunities.

Whether you are attending the Australian International Air Show at Avalon as an exhibitor, or merely going to ‘press the flesh’, the better prepared you are, the more opportunities will come your way.

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